Design of Nanophotonic Antireflection Coatings for III-V Thin-Film Photovoltaics

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Thin-film photovoltaics have provided a critical design avenue to help decrease the overall cost of solar power. However, a major drawback of thin-film solar cell technology is decreased optical absorption, making compact, high-quality antireflection coatings of critical importance to ensure that all available light enters the cell. In this thesis, we describe high efficiency thin-film InP and GaAs solar cells that utilize a periodic array of nanocylinders as antireflection coatings. We use coupled optical and electrical simulations to find that these nanophotonic structures reduce the solar-weighted average reflectivity of InP and GaAs solar cells to around 1.3 %, outperforming the best double-layer antireflection coatings. The coupling between Mie scattering resonances and thin-film interference effects accurately describes the optical enhancement provided by the nanocylinders. The spectrally resolved reflectivity and J-V characteristics of the devices under AM1.5G solar illumination are determined via the coupled optical and electrical simulations, resulting in predicted power conversion efficiencies > 23 %. We conclude that the nanostructured coatings reduce reflection without negatively affecting the electronic properties of the InP and GaAs solar cells by separating the nanostructured optical components from the active layer of the device.